Financial literacy series helps students plan for the future

Jack Polatchek | Staff Writer |

The Student Government Association (SGA), in collaboration with the Center for Student Diversity, Empowerment, and Community (DEC) recently sponsored a three-part series on financial literacy. This series included sessions on March 20, March 27, and April 3 in the Vermont Room inside Alliot Hall. An average of 13 students attended each session, filling most of the seats in the Vermont Room. This series offered students general knowledge on all aspects of finance, from saving and budgeting to managing student loan debt and filing personal taxes. The series was established by Sarah Childs, the Director of D.E.C. in association with KC Onuoha ’23, who is the current president of the SGA.
The series was run in a hands-on conversational manner with a financial expert, Katy Benson, an employee of the Opportunities Credit Union and manager of the money sense program. The Opportunities Credit Union is a credit union local to Burlington which runs courses through the money sense program to educate people on financial literacy. Due to the small group, size participants could easily ask Benson questions related to their own finances and general inquiries. Benson approached this series armed with a presentation overflowing with information. Benson’s, willingness to ask questions to the group to start a conversation made the series overtly personal. This personal approach to a financial series made the attendees eager to ask questions, promoting many conversations.
While this series is geared toward students with limited or no education in personal finance, this series offers a helpful refresher for students with some background knowledge. “I think everyone needs access to financial literacy,” said Christine Dossou ’25, who is a business owner, and student at St. Michael’s.
Dussou, the owner and operator of the Christine Nicole Collection, used the series as a way to be more educated when running her business. “For my business to run properly I need to know how to manage everything, not only just taxes but everything,” Dossou said. “These are the baby steps I need to do to efficiently manage my business when I get there.” While this series was geared toward students with limited knowledge of finance, the information provided is forming a foundation for everyone.

This course offered students a unique opportunity to learn how to handle their finances with an expert in the field. The students who attended the series had the chance to sit down with Katy Benson, one-on-one to ask questions and hear her advice. “It’s better to not just learn it, but do it, and implement that in your personal life, so you’re not waiting, you have that time to put to work what they learned,” Dossou said.
This was the goal when creating this series, to not only educate students on finance but also implement it into their own lives. For many students, this is the first time they have had conversations regarding finance, and it can often be an uncomfortable topic. “Many young college students may lack knowledge about finances because it makes us uncomfortable and we have not been taught. It is im
portant to have conversations that may make us uncomfortable to receive knowledge that will make us better,” KC Onuoha said.
The reason Childs believes this is important is that it is deeper than just personal finance. “Not everyone has access to this sort of information, what you need to consider right now and how to consider things for the long term and your long-term wellness,” Childs said. “Personal finance is not just about what you have in your bank account, not being good financially can lead to depression and unnecessary stress. This series aims to educate students on how to avoid these stressful situations.”
Because of the importance of this topic, more courses will be run in the future. “Not everyone had a chance to attend, we had just a portion of a larger student body, so it makes sense to offer something in the fall or in the spring,” Childs said. The course this year was the second series run, the first occurring during the spring 2022 semester. This year was the first year that Katy Benson was brought in to share her knowledge and she will be welcomed back next year, if there are not any scheduling conflicts Childs hopes.
Although the series is done for this year, Sarah Childs says it needs to run at least once a year. Information on how to be financially literate is not readily available to most students at St. Michael’s and the aim of this course was to promote financial education, “financial literacy is not just knowing the words and what they mean, but knowing how to apply them, in order to make well-informed decisions for your life,” Childs said.